How to Give a Dog a Massage

Medium
15 - 30 Minutes
1 Day

Introduction

Whether you have a dog who works hard and is tender and sore at the end of the day or your dog is experiencing growing pains, or even an old dog who deals with pain and discomfort, you can learn to give him a massage to make him feel better and relax at the end of his day. Giving your dog a massage will help ease tension built up in his muscles, help him to relax, and potentially help him sleep. Massage your pup after exercise, upon waking, or at night to strengthen the bond you have with him and help his body feel better.

Dog's Perspective

If your dog is not used to getting massages on a regular basis, he might flinch because his muscles could be tender and sore. Growing puppies and older dogs can both benefit from a massage. If this is new for you and your dog, ease into each session by working on one area at a time.

The Bedtime Massage Method

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Step
1
Exercise
Tire your dog out a bit before bedtime. If it’s been a long day, don't overexert him, but toss a ball or go for a walk before taking him to his bed for sleep.
Step
2
Lie down
Get your pup in a comfortable place like his bed where you can sit with him while he rests. Get him settled and sit next to him.
Step
3
Gentle massage
Start with his shoulders and neck. Gently pull the skin and muscles from the back of the neck down toward your pup’s back.
Step
4
Circle
With small circles, massage small areas from the neck down one side and then to the other side.
Step
5
Back to legs
After each side has been massaged, move to his back and then his front legs. Keep your touch soft and gentle. Move in circles from the top of his body down to the bottom.
Step
6
Goodnight
Once you are finished massaging his muscles from head to tail, bid him a good night. You can use this massage each night before bed or on a regular basis to help him sleep and relax.
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The Maintenance Method

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Step
1
Sitting
Put your dog in a sitting position. Stand or sit behind him and place your flat hand on the back of his neck.
Step
2
Small circles
Use small circular motions and your palm to slowly massage his neck.
Step
3
Focus
Pay attention to your dog’s reflexes and movements as you massage. Some areas might be more tender than others. These areas might need more attention over time but will be sensitive at first.
Step
4
Move
Continue your small circular massages moving across your dog’s back and to his legs and tail. Make sure your motions are simple and slow.
Step
5
Daily
Repeat this daily focusing on areas that are swollen and tender. With time and massage, these areas should soften and relax.
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Caution & Considerations

  • At first, consider starting massages at bedtime. Your dog will be tired and more likely to be calm and settled.
  • Just like you, your pup will have layers of muscles, some tight and some loose.
  • Focus on areas that are hard, massaging the knots out with gentle slow circles.
  • If your dog has been injured, a massage can help reduce inflammation and pain.
  • Highly anxious dogs can also benefit from massages.
  • Ease muscle tension and tightness with a massage during stressful times such as when company is coming, during a thunderstorm, before you leave the house, or during celebrations.
  • Massages can improve circulation, sending blood to all areas of your dog’s body. With time, this could help injuries, pain, and overall immunity.
  • Build trust with your dog by caring for him with some extra TLC and a massage. As the bond strengthens between you two, he will likely respect you more and listen more.
  • Active dogs can benefit from a massage after playtime and activity.
  • A massage at the end of your pup’s day can improve sleep and keep restlessness down to a minimum.
  • Older dogs who suffer from stiff joints and arthritis might enjoy a daily massage.

Conclusion

Building a bond between you and your dog starts with love and affection and is completed through training. One way to build trust and give your dog much needed affection is to understand how he is feeling and help his body through various changes. A gentle massage can help your dog's tired muscles or relax his body to sleep.

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